TV big brothers we wish were related to us IRL
Growing up with an older sister and a younger brother, I am the quintessential middle child. I am the peacemaker, the caregiver, the listener and wear my “Middle Child” badge with pride. But I’d be lying if there weren’t a few instances where I wished I’d had just one more sibling to make me one of four. And I’d also be lying if I didn’t tell you that most of these extra siblings I wished for were fictitious.
Television was, and still is, a comfort for me. So when some of my favorite television shows growing up included an incredible big brother? It’s no wonder I started fantasizing about no longer being a middle child.
Here are ten TV big brothers I wish I had (And I bet you did, too.):
Alex P. Keaton, Family Ties
Alex P. Keaton is the big brother that drives you crazy, but you love him for it anyway. Characterizing the Reagan era, Alex wore ties, carried a brief case and aspired to be successful in business and wealthy. He could drive his parents crazy with his opposite views, but warmed all of our hearts when, after two seasons of preparing to go to Princeton and become an Ivy League student, he gave up his interview to tend to his sister, whose heart was broken by her boyfriend. In that moment, I knew: I wanted Alex P Keaton to be my big brother.
Theo Huxtable, The Cosby Show
If you’re looking for a brother that can be your living proof of what perseverance and never giving up looks like, Theo Huxtable is your guy. In the first few seasons of The Cosby Show, Theo struggles in school and is a bit of a trouble maker, which makes him a pretty fun older brother. But as he starts at NYU, he becomes an incredibly successful student and discovers he has dyslexia. This spurs him towards working with other students with learning disabilities and eventually graduating with a degree in psychology. He is caring, compassionate and believes in overcoming some incredible obstacles. What better role model than a big brother like Theo?
Richie Cunningham, Happy Days
Who could resist the Happy Days big brother with perfectly parted hair, a Letterman jacket and that wholesome, all-American smile? Not to mention that, because of his “always do the right thing” attitude, he’ll never let you get too deep in trouble. Who could forget the episode where Joanie, tired of living her “dull” existence, joins a gang? The gang leader, Joanie’s new boyfriend, expects her to do more for him as his girlfriend, including things Joanie just isn’t ready to do. Richie steps in and saves the day, naturally, all the while showing Joanie what she should expect from a future beau. He is protective, kind and the best friend everyone wants to have. You simply couldn’t pick a better big brother to share a malt with at Arnold’s.
Mike Seaver, Growing Pains
Charming, popular and the ultimate ladies’ man, there never seems to be a dull moment when Mike Seaver is in an episode of Growing Pains. I used to watch this on ABC’s TGIF line-up and daydream about Mike as my big brother, especially when he was scheming his way out of something, or using all of his clever ideas to trick his younger siblings. He seemed like too much fun and I’m not ashamed to say I often thought of my own ideas to seek revenge on this fictional brother, much like Carol and Ben did through the series. But, for all of his immature moments, Mike is always genuine and real. From telling his dad about a party where he was offered cocaine to having to break the news to Carol about her boyfriend dying, Mike is a truly good guy whose heart belongs to his family 100%.
Carlton Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
I mean, does this even require an explanation? Sure, sometimes the middle Banks child can get on a high horse, like when he speaks about public school, but who could turn down a brother that dances to Tom Jones? Not even the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air himself. Despite looking down on some of his siblings’ choices, he covers for them on several occasions and offers advice whenever he can. Even though it’s not a moment between Carlton and his siblings, the episode where his father has a heart attack is one of the most heart wrenching episodes ever show that it’s hard not to get a lump in my throat just watching it. Ever the family man, Carlton knows what’s really important in life and holds on to it dearly. (Even if they constantly poke fun at his height.)
Greg Brady, The Brady Bunch
The leader of The Brady Bunch siblings, Greg is the kind of brother you’d be both annoyed (Seriously, why won’t your friends stop drooling over him?) and proud (Hello, Mr. Rockstar!) to have. A renaissance man, Greg shows great talent with his guitar, singing, football and capturing the heart of every girl at Westdale High. Despite often being irritated with his younger siblings and insisting on more time away from them, he’s never outright mean or malicious to them, even if it could benefit him. There is an episode where he and Marcia are up against each other for a student body position at their school. When Greg’s campaign manager tells him that they’ve decided to make up a rumor about Marcia to sway the votes to Greg, the big brother of our dreams puts his foot down. He refuses and, after Marcia finds out, wins anyway as his sister steps down for her big brother. Not only will he look out for you at every turn, but he could probably help you pick out a great white belt to go with your bell bottoms.
Eric Matthews, Boy Meets World
Lovable, goofy and fun, Eric Matthews is the brother you want around for every situation. If you’re looking for someone to offer you dating advice, make you laugh and inspire you to be a better person, then becoming one of the Matthews clan is your best bet. He intervenes on several occasions when Cory is being bullied or involved in a fight and becomes an honorary big brother to a foster child he meets while playing Santa. In one of the most moving episodes of Boy Meets World, Eric tells Cory that now Tommy, the foster child, “kind of has a big brother.” Cory smiles and says, “Well, he got a good one.” (If I could pass you tissues through the screen, I so would.) And come on, he’s absolutely right. My favorite Eric quote of all time is “I wanna make the happiness of the entire world my responsibility.” What else could you ask for in a big brother?
Joey Tribbiani, Friends
I know, he’s not really known for his sibling relationships on Friends, but who could resist the lovable Italian as a big brother? With seven sisters, Joey is incredibly protective of his family and has a strong nurturing instinct. There are countless moments in the series where he sticks up for others, offers everything he has to his family and friends, and is there for everyone to lean on in times of trouble. There is a downside to having Joey as a big brother, however. I’m just going to assume that you’re never going to get anything to eat in that house. Especially sandwiches. But it’s worth it to have a big brother who once had an imaginary friend named Maurice, the space cowboy. (And I bet he’d share Hugsy with you for at least a few minutes.)
John-Boy Walton, The Waltons
Even if you’re not a fan of “The Waltons”, no one could seriously turn down the chance to have John-Boy Walton as a big brother. The eldest of the Walton brood, John-Boy is the thinker and dreamer. Aspiring to be a writer, he is constantly recording his thoughts and ideas, which makes him sensitive and someone you could definitely talk to without worrying about judgment. In one episode, his younger brother, Jim-Bob asks him what’s wrong with their moody sister, Mary Ellen. John-Boy’s reply? “Well, she’s just crazy. Everybody goes crazy when they’re thirteen.” TRUTH, John-Boy. TRUTH. He makes several comments throughout the series about having to take care of all his younger siblings, sometimes with a hint of bitterness, but it’s obvious his family is first and his love for them is deep and true. Besides, who wouldn’t appreciate a big brother that understands life is often complicated and, sometimes, needs a further look? We could all use one of those!
Ross Geller, Friends
Oh come on. Despite mentioning Joey, you didn’t really think I could leave out the number one big brother on Friends, did you? Sure, your parents may seem to think he can do no wrong, but you know better and holding his secrets for him means a closer bond than you can ever imagine. Ever wanted a big brother that would choreograph a dance with you? One to play football with on Thanksgiving? One that, despite sometimes driving you a little bit crazy, loves you more than anything else? Then you totally want Ross Geller as your big brother. You could trust him with your life and know that, unless he’s under stress from your parents, he’ll keep all your secrets close. (So, maybe don’t tell him so much about your life? Unless you’re willing to rat him out, too.) Oh… and you should maybe hide your hair gel with Ross as your big brother. You know, if you don’t want to have to buy a new bottle every few days.
So spill it. Did I leave your favorite television big brother out? Who would you pick?